This is Vikki Merritt, the school counsellor at Our Lady of Mercy College. Vikki is a Social Worker with a background in Psychology. She has been working at the College since 2017.
Her role is to provide mental health services to students, ensuring that they have access to the support required to facilitate success in their education.
She also provides support to parents, caregivers and staff through provision of information, education and meetings.
During the current COVID 19 pandemic, the main issues of concern being raised by students and their parents are:
· Stress and anxiety about the unknown
· Stress about missing school
· Concerns about the safety and well-being of family and friends
To assist to ease these concerns, Vikki provides students and their families with resources and information to support their mental well-being whilst experiencing social distancing and remote learning. The school has engaged in e-counselling options for students which allowed students to access counselling through text (Chat), audio, or video conferencing via TEAM’s. This appear to have been received well, with many students accessing the service during their time engaged in Remote Learning.
"I find that once the students engage in the counselling process, they are happy to continue to access it and reach out when they feel the need."
Although accessing support for mental health matters is becoming more acceptable, it can still be challenging for young people due to the perceived stigma of ‘asking for help’. Challenging this stigma and normalising ’asking for help’ continues to be a focus of the counselling program. We are always finding creative ways to educate and up-skill students in ways they can take care of themselves and their friends ‘emotionally and mentally’.
"I find that once the students engage in the counselling process, they are happy to continue to access it and reach out when they feel the need." Vikki says.
The COVID-19 period has brought a great deal of uncertainty for many students and parents and the College would like to assure you that we will continue to not just meet the educational needs of your child, but also support their mental health needs.
Please contact Mrs Vikki Merritt via email firstname.lastname@example.org or SEQTA if you have any concerns regarding your child’s well-being.